WHS duties

Everyone in the workplace has WHS duties under the model WHS Act. You have specific duties if you are: 

  • person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) 

  • principal contractor 

  • person who commissions the construction work 

  • building or structure designer 

  • person carrying out high-risk construction work 

  • manufacturer, importer, supplier or installer of plant, substances or structures 

  • officer (for example, a company director) 

  • worker 

  • other person on the construction site (for example, a visitor) 

People with WHS duties in construction 

The model WHS Regulations outline duties that apply to construction work. This includes specific requirements and ways to manage high-risk construction work. For further information, see the model Code of Practice: Construction work. 

As a PCBU, you must, so far as is reasonably practicable:  

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace  

  • consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter, and 

  • consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other relevant duty holders. 

In construction work, a PCBU is the primary duty holder for WHS and must manage risks to keep people safe. 

See Chapter 2 of the model Code of Practice: Construction work for more information. 

Sharing WHS duties in construction 

Construction work often involves many businesses and undertakings. There can be many PCBUs, with many jobs, including those who: 

  • carry out construction work  

  • design the building or structure  

  • commission the construction work  

  • are principal contractors  

  • manage or control of a workplace with construction work 

  • carry out high risk construction work  

A person cannot eliminate their health and safety duties by sub-contracting all, or elements of, the construction work to another PCBU. 

Consequently, more than one person can have the same duty. Where two or more people have the same duty, each person must consult and comply with that duty.  

Chapter 1 of the model Code of Practice: Construction work has more information.